We can be grateful today that the U.S. Air Force will no longer include biblical or Christian justifications for the use of nuclear weapons in its ethics training for officers. About 30 Air Force officers, many practicing Roman Catholics and Protestants, according to military.com, were behind the effort to get rid of the mandatory ethics training.
It’s hard to imagine the ethics training that could accompany the U.S. nuclear weapons program. I am not aware of any Cathoilc moral argument that could justify their use in any situation on just war principles (nor any weapons of mass destruction for that matter). The common justification for their use in Japan at the end of the World War II–that the bombings of Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) prevented deaths that an invasion would have caused–is not a tenable moral argument in Catholic tradition. No approach to proportionality in war could countenance the deaths of tens of thousands of innocents no matter what the good outcome.
Then again, as we are seeing again in Iraq and Afghanistan, the large-scale death of innocents is a unique facet of modern warfare, which begs the question of why Christian tradition can any longer coutenance a just war at all, save in the case of actual self-defense.
I’m glad the Air Force will no longer try to make the case for the ethical use of nukes. Now if only Christians in general could get on board.
Related: Sounding Board: Let’s drop the bomb